My internal clock is broken. It keeps prematurely sounding the alarm. I would accept waking up at five or six, but it wakes me up at four or three—today, at two in the morning.
Anxiety inflames my chest like heartburn. I’m nervous like a novice about to perform. I am hyper-conscious of each concern and every worry, of each doubt, each unanswered question, each task that’s still left to be done.
I have been here before. I couldn’t sleep the whole week before my wedding. After the fire in our apartment, I had insomnia for half a month. And now, with this funeral that I’m co-planning, wakefulness is upon me nightly once more.
My thoughts and emotions are too over-stimulated. I can’t shut down. There’s nothing I can do at two or four in the morning, but that’s something my brain doesn’t seem to know. My mind is racing towards an unreachable destination. Perpetually planning, I keep adding to my list of things to do.
There’s a eulogy to write, lawyers and government entities to engage, bills to pay, decisions to make, all added to so many unanswered questions, and the biggest—ever-present and looming like Jack’s giant—whom can I trust?
All this and I’m still mourning—tears at the ready, waiting for orders to fall. All this and there’s a weight I’m carrying—the weight of a loved one who’s passed on.
I’ve been here before. In three days I will read my third eulogy: mother, paternal grandfather, and soon maternal grandma. The third eulogy I’ve read since September of 2011, but the first I’m writing on my own.
And where do I begin? How do I, a writer, write this? There’s so much I don’t know. Who were my grandmother’s parents? Where did she go to school? What was her year of emigration? I don’t have a clue. I can talk about what I do remember, the Saturday nights watching Golden Girls, Amen!, Nurses, and 227. The Rice Krispies treats she’d make for me each week. The Scrabble games at which she’d cheat (usually, though not always—case in point, qi and jo are in the dictionary).
I remember her making porridge from scratch in the mornings. How tenderly she braided my hair. I remember how good her cooking was—before she stopped using salt after her high blood pressure scare. I remember her taking piano lessons later in life than most—butchering the simplest songs. At the time, I just wanted her to find the right notes and end my auditory suffering, but now I respect her effort.
She was patient and humble, well travelled, and empty of vanity. Her teeth may have been false, but her smile was genuine. She had the softest hands—well worn with age. And even though I was a bed-wetter, she never refused to sleep with me. And therein lays what I’ll remember most of all—reliably wrapped around us like a benevolent blanket, her affection—her sweet, soft love.
But right now, my internal clock is rebelling against me. I’m sleepy when I need to be awake, and awake when I desperately want to sleep. I’m under rested and over-thinking. But I’m too tired to write anything meaningful, too frazzled of mind to undertake the eulogy.
I’ve been here before. As are most things, this, too, I know is temporary. I will sleep soundly again. Maybe tonight. Maybe tomorrow. In the meantime, the sun will rise to find me waiting for it to get up in the morning.